Finding a New York will and testament that is missing

by | Aug 10, 2014 | Estate Planning |

A lot of different questions come up for heirs and relatives after the death of a loved one. One of those questions could relate to their departed family member’s will and whether the will they have is actually the latest one to be drafted. This could inevitably lead to a frantic search through disorganized filing cabinets as heirs try to locate a more up-to-date will and testament.

While New York residents who are planning their estates have the ability to deposit their will with the clerk of the court — and while this would clearly be the responsible thing to do — it is not often done. Nevertheless, family members and potential heirs can get in touch with the clerk of court’s office to ask if an updated will is on file just to be sure.

Usually, an up-to-date will can be found wherever the deceased individual kept his or her important papers. A bank’s safety deposit box, a desk drawer or a filing cabinet would be good places to check. It is very rare that someone would hide their will, considering that this is a document that most people want to be easily found in the event of an unexpected death. If the will cannot be found, however, one could try to contact the individual’s estate planning attorney to obtain a copy — if the attorney is known.

In the event that a newer, updated will, is discovered, then it becomes the question of whether that new will can be admitted into the probate process. Indeed, a time limitation will apply to the admission of a will into probate. Also, if a previous will was entered into probate, individuals only have a certain amount of time in which to challenge the earlier will.

Once a will is located, an estate planning attorney will be able to determine what legal strategies will be required to try and get that will entered into probate. While no results are guaranteed, New York courts do strive to fulfill the wishes of the deceased whenever and wherever it is legally possible.

Source:, “ESTATE PLANNING: Who’s got the will?” Christopher W. Yugo, Aug. 02, 2014